Thursday, October 11, 2007

Disgusting ideologues

Post below lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

"A new project in which university anthropologists study tribal customs in Iraq and Afghanistan for the US military has prompted a fierce backlash among academics, some of whom accuse their colleagues of engaging in a wartime effort that violates their professional ethics," the Boston Globe reports:
The handful of anthropologists working with so-called human terrain teams designed to help commanders navigate the cultural thickets of both countries are being accused of "prostituting science" and presiding over the "militarization of anthropology," the study of the social practices and cultural origins of humans.

Internet blogs oppose the project, urging "anthropologists of the world, unite!" Academic journal articles with titles such as "Anthropologists as Spies" criticize the efforts. And some of the scientists under attack fear they could be blackballed by their profession. . . .

The US forces' superficial understanding of local tribal customs and ancient ethnic and sectarian rivalries has hampered their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. An outstretched arm, palm facing forward, for example, means "stop" in most Western cultures, but in Iraq it's considered a sign of welcome. Confusion over the signal has had deadly consequences, leading US troops to open fire at Iraqi civilians who didn't stop at checkpoints.
The Paris edition of the New York Times, reporting from Shabak Valley, Afghanistan, has more on the program:
Colonel Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division unit working with anthropologists here, said the unit's combat operations had been reduced by 60 percent since the anthropologists arrived this spring. He said the focus had shifted from combat to improving security, health care and education for the population. "We're looking at this from a human perspective, from a social scientist's perspective," he said. "We're not focused on the enemy. We're focused on bringing governance down to the people."
What explanation can there be for academics' objecting to this, other than animus toward the U.S. military or America itself? They are determined to keep U.S. servicemen ignorant, and are willing to see Iraqis and Afghans die if that is what it takes.

What's next, a new name for Halloween?

How did you celebrate the holiday formerly known as Columbus Day? Some of Madison 's Italians celebrated Monday by firing off fiery e-mails after learning the Dane County Board, at its last meeting, had renamed their ethnic pride day Indigenous People 's Day. Really. Before you write this off as an "only in Madison " kind of thing, note that Berkeley, Calif., also celebrated Indigenous People 's Day on Monday with a Pow Wow and an Indian Market.

According to Berkeley 's Web site, the new holiday replaces Columbus Day because of "overwhelming evidence that Columbus himself took personal leadership in acts that would today be called genocide. " In Madison, Frank Alfano called the motion "an insult to Italians, ' ' while Catherine Tripalin Murray threatened to march around the Capitol Square with a protest sign.

Dane County Chairman Scott McDonell said in an e-mail that no slam against Italians was intended by the resolution, introduced by Progressive Dane Ald. Ashok Kumar. "In no way was our action intended as a slight to Italian Americans, " McDonell wrote. "Rather, it was a positive message about the Native Americans, which passed unanimously on the county board floor. " McDonell offered to sponsor a resolution proclaiming the entire month of October as Italian heritage month.

"That 's some pretty fast backpedaling, " UW School of Medicine and Public Health professor Dan Malone said on Monday. Don 't be ethnically confused: His grandpa 's name was Melone until it was changed by his Irish street crew boss. "This whole thing of blaming Columbus for the atrocities of the last 500 years is idiotic, " Malone said. Malone said Italians see the slams against Columbus as insults to Italian-Americans, "and we weren 't even here ' ' during most of the Indian atrocities because most Italians didn 't arrive on this continent until after 1880.

Given the broken promises and terrible acts committed against native people, you could dedicate an entire century to Native Americans and it wouldn 't make up for it. But insulting another group 's holiday isn 't the way to go.

On Saturday, the Italian Workmen 's Club gave its "Columbian Medal " at its annual Columbus Day Dinner to former Randall School teacher Mark Wagler. He taught his students the history of the old Greenbush neighborhood, where Italian-, African-, Jewish- and Irish-Americans lived together. Wagler 's students pushed for Madison to celebrate "Greenbush Day " every March 21. Better hope no one decides to rename Greenbush Day as Ethnically Diverse Neighborhood Eradicated by Misguided Urban Renewal Day.


Columbus Day Celebrates Western Civilization

Columbus Day, observed this year on October 8, will celebrate the 515th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. "Although in recent decades Columbus Day has fallen out of favor in many circles, it is vitally important that we continue to celebrate this holiday with pride," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "Columbus Day is, at root, a celebration of the worldwide spread of Western civilization--a value that is under attack from multiculturalists at home and Islamic totalitarians abroad.

"Multiculturalism, which rejects the idea that some cultures are superior to others, makes it possible for American Indian activists to get away with castigating Columbus as a 'cultural imperialist,' calling for abolition of his holiday and replacing it with 'Indigenous Peoples Day.' This is outrageous. Contrary to the multiculturalist position, it is possible to demonstrate objectively that one society is superior to another--by the standard of what benefits human life. By this standard, modern industrial society is incomparably superior to the barbaric, tribalistic Stone Age culture of the Indians who predated Columbus.

"Those who attack Columbus Day are attacking the distinctive values of Western civilization that America so proudly embraces--reason, science, individual rights, and capitalism. This is especially dangerous at a time when those exact values are under assault from Islamic totalitarians who terrorize us as part of their quest to destroy our civilization and replace it with a worldwide Islamic theocracy.

"Americans need to understand that their lives and happiness are at stake in the struggle to uphold the core values of Western civilization--a struggle that is epitomized by the continuing controversy over Columbus Day. "We need not evade or excuse Columbus's flaws--his religious zealotry, his enslavement and oppression of natives--to recognize that he made history by finding new territory for a civilization that would soon show mankind how to overcome the age-old scourges of slavery, war, and forced religious conversion," Bowden said. "On Columbus Day, we must continue to celebrate that civilization, and declare our resolve to defend it against both its intellectual and political enemies."


Still some old-style patriotism left in Britain -- just not in the chattering classes

Botham is a man of great fame and accomplishment. Something the chatterers would like to be but are not

Early yesterday morning, as the fast train from Darlington clattered towards London, Ian Botham seemed unusually thoughtful. His words were carefully measured and savoured as he remembered his very first train journey to London 36 years ago. In August 1971, at the age of 15 and on his way for a trial to join the ground staff at Lord's, he had travelled with his mum.

"They offered me a place immediately and I was back down again, on my own, the following Monday. That's when my adult life started - leaving home to become a professional cricketer. And that's what makes it so special to have my mum coming back to London this week to join us when me and [my wife] Kath and our grandsons go to the Palace."

Tomorrow morning, plain old Beefy will arise as Sir Ian Terence Botham after he receives his knighthood and, yesterday, noticing the perspiration in the creases of his brow, I asked him if he was nervous. "I'm actually excited," he grinned. "It will be the greatest day of my life. When I think how far I've come these 36 years I feel extraordinarily honoured."

Botham flicked away a bead of sweat with the old nonchalance. "They're coming up with all kinds of names for me now and Sirloin of Beef was the first good one. I don't mind. The monarchy stands for everything that makes me proud to be English. I'm a massive royalist." My eyes, presumably, had begun to glaze at that point because a Beefy fist came crashing down. "I listen to all these republicans," Botham thundered, "and if it was down to me I'd hang 'em! I honestly would. It's a traitor's game for me."

Botham's candour, however, can be moving rather than just amusing. He contemplated, with rare seriousness, the prickly selfishness and contrasting selflessness which underpin not so much his knighthood as his life. In sporting terms Botham is an undisputed colossus and his cricketing success was built on the back of a single-minded belief, and sheer selfishness, that hurt his family terribly. But, for all his faults and failings, he has also raised 10m pounds for research into leukaemia.

In his new autobiography he details the pain he caused Kath for decades. "We've been married 30 years and I put Kath through hell. Brian Close was one of the first people we told we were getting married and he was perceptive. He knew how tough it would be for Kath. He could see I had the narrow-mindedness to get to where I wanted to be as a cricketer and Kath did not stand a chance against that - and her sufferance of my selfishness, her patience, her bringing up three children I hardly saw, could only have been endured by an exceptionally strong person. We're still together - and that's down to Kath. I hold my hand up. I screwed up and nearly lost the person who was the best mate I ever had. But I don't believe in regret because I think everything happens for a reason." Would Kath feel the same? "I'm not sure I'd want to ask Kath that question. But from my point of view we're stronger and closer than ever."

Botham insists that his generous charity is not linked to a subconscious guilt about his sporting ego. "I really don't think so. I just came across four young boys dying of leukaemia in a hospital ward in 1977. I was ignorant and couldn't believe these kids would soon be dead. I'd also just broken the bone in my foot so my mind was off cricket. Maybe that's why I became so absorbed and asked all these questions. And one of the qualities I do have is that when I start something I finish it. I'm as heavily involved in leukaemia as ever. It feels like my life's work."

This comes from a man who cheerfully admits that at school in Yeovil he was called Bungalow - "Meaning," Botham grins as he taps his head, "nothing upstairs". Yet his poignant friendship with John Arlott, a man as bright and cultured as Botham could be crude and reactionary, contains some of the most affecting pages in his book. "I met John when I was 17 and took his picnic basket up to the commentary box. There were four bottles of Beaujolais in that basket. Being a cider-boy I thought wine was a namby-pamby drink. But I was gripped as John started talking to me, this dumb yokel, about wine. His command of English just rolled off him. He got out some cheese and said this goes best with that wine. 'Go on,' he'd say, 'have a taste.' Our incredible friendship started and he became my mentor. These days they call 'em 'life-gurus' or some such crap."

It is hard to imagine Kevin Pietersen befriending a man as different to him and Botham as the former Guardian writer. "But John was a proper person. In the last seven years of his life when we both had places on Alderney I had two meals a day with him whenever I was on the island. At six minutes past nine every morning the phone would ring. John would say, 'C'mon over - and bring your thirst with you.' "At the end when the emphysema took over and he was struggling with speech he had an oxygen mask and I often had to empty his bag for him. But he liked me being there because I knew to wait and let him finish his sentences between gasps. I didn't try to say the words for him because I knew how much they mattered. That was strange for me - to be patient and quiet. But I always wanted to listen to John."

Arlott's one cricketing regret was retiring from commentary a year before the Ashes Test of Headingley in 1981 and Botham's miraculous innings of 149 just after resigning the captaincy. "There was some anger in that knock because when I announced my resignation Alec Bedser [the chairman of selectors] said, 'We were about to fire him.' I thought 'You plonker!' To be brutal, the establishment was never happy some guy from an ordinary school in Somerset was captaining England. They were glad to see the back of me.

"When the press asked me who should take over I said 'Bring back Mike Brearley.' They listened to me but bloody Bedser took the praise for that. The cheek of the tosser! How did he ever get a knighthood? So at Headingley I put up my finger at the establishment and the press and I came back into the dressing room after the fourth day, having scored my century [off 87 balls], and got out a cigar and had a smoke. I was knackered but, as for Bedser and that lot, I thought bollocks to you. I don't need any of you."

That streak of rebellious genius remained. Botham played an even better innings of 118 at Old Trafford later that summer and in subsequent years he would conjure up other unlikely feats - returning from a three-month ban for admitting smoking cannabis to take a wicket with his first long-hop of a ball back in Test cricket. His final delivery, as a professional cricketer, was equally Bothamesque. "I was playing for Durham, against the Aussies, and David Boon faced my last-ever ball. Booney was struggling for his Test place and was deadly serious. But he just about fell over laughing and shouted, 'Beefy, you can't do this to me.' I was midway though my run-up and he'd spotted that I'd unzipped my fly and hauled out the meat and two veg. The old man was dangling in the wind as I steamed in. If I'd got it on target I would've bowled him. I thought it was a nice way to go out."

It is not an anecdote he will share with the Queen. "I'll be on my best behaviour. She actually invited me for tea in 1981. It was a bit like me and John Arlott. I sat and listened. To be honest she probably would've preferred spending time with one of her racehorses rather than me, but I loved it. [Tomorrow] will be even better. "When Kath picked up our grandsons from school and told them that grandad was going to become a knight she asked if they wanted to come to the Palace. The one boy, James, was very thoughtful. He said, 'Is that when she uses the sword?' Kath said yes and he asked, 'Is it a sharp sword?' Kath looked at him but he kept going: 'What if the Queen slips? Would she cut off grandad's head?' Kath said, 'I don't think so, James.' He didn't say anything for 30 seconds but then he looked up and said, 'Yes, I will come. Just in case.'"



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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